There are a lot of important issues to blog on today: Kerry’s commanding speech at the Democratic convention, Tim Eyman’s hissyfit over the King County Council, the hidden agendas behind Initiative 892. But I’m on vacation, so I’ll just have some fun and take another run at
Wall Street Journal Seattle Times editorial columnist Collin Levey.
A while back I gave Collin a backhanded compliment, criticizing a column for not meeting her “usual standard of ruthless clarity.” But after several weeks of meandering essays only slightly less muddled than their theses, I’m wondering if I set the bar too high.
That’s not to say that Collin can’t write. She certainly has a knack for stringing words together into an entertaining sentence; and those sentences tend to form coherent paragraphs.
But too often that’s where the coherence ends. She is so intent on leveling charge after charge against us anti-semitic, un-American lefties that I often feel like I’m reading multiple columns at once: on more than one occasion I’ve found myself stranded between paragraphs, nearly convinced that I had skipped a page.
Collin’s noncontiguous narrative is exacerbated by her minimalist segues, which often consist of little more than a carriage return and a linefeed. Indeed, many of her columns read like they were chopped up and reassembled by some deranged, Dadaist editor.
Of course Collin is not unique amongst the new breed of political commentators who cater to — and seem to be products of — our body politic’s growing epidemic of A.D.D. Whatever you might think of an equally partisan, old-timer like George Will, you have to admit that he knows how to solidly construct and defend a thesis. Collin, on the other hand, seems to prefer a shotgun literary mien that willingly sacrifices quality of analysis for quantity.
Her credibility as a chronicler of truth is further diminished by a penchant for littering her columns with piles of unsupported facts and unreferenced, single-word quotes. She scornfully dismisses her targets as liars and frauds, but does so on the basis of a lazy, connect-the-dots methodology that makes Michael Moore look like Will and Ariel Durant. (Look it up.)
For example, take yesterday’s column, in which she asks:
What or who exactly was Heinz Kerry referring to with the McCarthyite slur “un-American”?
What exactly is Collin referring to with the the un-American slur “McCarthyite”? Well, hell if I know, because Collin never bothers to provide any reference or context. By excerpting a quotation down to a single disembodied word, Collin hopes readers will infer a nefarious subtext, but for all I know Teresa Heinz Kerry may have been flouting her knowledge of condiments by accurately referring to the culinary origins of mayonnaise or Dijon mustard? Or perhaps she was reciting the “U” section of the dictionary?
Or maybe Mrs. Kerry was referring to one of the many times a Republican politician or commentator has questioned someone’s patriotism, merely for opposing the administration’s policies? The word “McCarthyism”, after all, was coined for its Republican namesake.
But like Collin, I digress… a nearly unavoidable pitfall when critiquing a column that jumps from attack to attack to attack, based on charges that have less visible means of support than Neil Bush.
Look… everybody has a right to their own opinions; I just don’t understand how Collin’s earned the privilege to express hers weekly in a major newspaper. (Well… as major a newspaper as we have in Washington state.) Compared to most people, she’s not such a terrible writer. It’s just that stylistically she’s more suited to writing blogs than editorial columns.